James Allen

6. Right Thinking And Repose

LIFE IS A COMBINATION OF HABITS, some baneful, some beneficent, all of which take their rise in the one habit of thinking. The thought makes the man; therefore right-thinking is the most important thing in life. The essential difference between a wise man and a fool is that the wise man controls his thinking, the fool is controlled by it. A wise man determines how and what he shall think, and does not allow external things to divert his thought from the main purpose. But a fool is carried captive by every tyrant thought as it is aroused within him by external things, and he goes through life the helpless tool of impulse, whim, and passion.

Careless, slovenly thinking, commonly called thoughtlessness, is the companion of failure, wrongdoing, and wretchedness. Nothing, no prayers, no religious ceremonies, not even acts of charity, can make up for wrong-thinking. Only right-thinking can rectify a wrong life. Only the right attitude of mind towards men and things can bring repose and peace.

Chapter 6 begins in Life Triumphant
His Complete Works:


From the unsigned prefatory remarks:

An unrewarded genius

James Allen is a literary mystery man. His inspirational writings have influenced millions for good. Yet today he remains almost unknown...... None of his books give a clue to his life other than to mention his place of residence - Ilfracombe, England. His name cannot be found in a major reference work. Not even the Library of Congress or the British Museum has much to say about him.
Who was this man who believed in the power of thought to bring fame, fortune and happiness? Or did he, as Henry David Thoreau says, hear a different drummer?... James Allen never gained fame or fortune. That much is true. His was a quiet, unrewarded genius. He seldom made enough money from his writings to cover expenses.
Allen was born in Leicester, Central England, November 28, 1864. The family business failed within a few years, and in 1879 his father left for America in an effort to recoup his losses. The elder Allen had hoped to settle in the United States, but was robbed and murdered before he could send for his family.
Difficult to name a favorite work of Allen. Yet this Shining Gateway deserves a nomination:


His wife's Foreword::

Students of the works of James Allen all over the world will welcome with joy another book from his able pen. In this work we find the Prophet of Meditation in one of his deepest and yet most lucid expositions. How wonderfully he deals with fundamental principles ! Here the reader will find no vague statement of generalities, for the writer enters with tender reverence into every detail of human experience. It is as though he came back to The Shining Gate, and, standing there, he reviewed all the way up which his own feet have travelled, passing over no temptation that is common to man; knowing that the obstacles that barred his ascending pathway, or the clouds that at times obscured his vision, are the common experiences of all those who have set their faces towards the heights of Blessed Vision. As we read his words now, he seems to stand and beckon to us, saying, "Come on, my fellow Pilgrims; it is straight ahead to the Shining Gateway ; I have blazed the track for you." In sending forth this, another posthumous volume from his pen, we have no doubt but that it will help many and many an aspiring soul up to the heights, until at last they too stand within The shining Gateway.
The written word may inspire an entire lifetime toward a Path of Wisdom & Love. James Allen (1864-1912) was inspired to tread the Path by Light of Asia:

Then, at the age of 24, he {Allen] came across Sir Edwin Arnold's "The Light of Asia." Describing his sensations on reading it, he has said,
" I could not stir from my seat till I read every word. When I did rise from the reading of this book, it was as though I had become a different man. A curtain seemed to have rolled back from the face of the Universe, and I saw the causes and meaning of things which had hitherto been dark mysteries. There was a revelation which was almost blinding in its brilliance and suddenness, an exaltation which alarmed me while it transported me into a felicitous insight. The vision quickly faded, but its influence remained, the memory of it saving me in many an hour of darkness and temptation, until that calmer time of meditation and knowledge, ten years later, when it returned never again to fade from the mind."

From Herald of the Star, March 1916.
The Shining Gateway begins:

Behold the shining gateway​

He who attaineth unto Purity
The faultless Parthenon of Truth doth use
Awake ! Disperse the dreams of self and sin ?
Behold the Shining Gateway! Enter in!

1. The shining gateway of meditation​

Be watchful, fearless, faithful, patient, pure:
By earnest meditation sound the depths
Profound of life, and scale the heights sublime
Of Love and Wisdom. He who does not find
The Way of Meditation cannot reach
Emancipation and enlightenment.

The unregenerate man is subject to these three things — Desire, Passion, Sorrow. He lives habitually in these conditions, and neither questions nor examines them. He regards them as his life itself, and cannot conceive of any life apart from them. To-day he desires, to-morrow he indulges his passions, and the third day he grieves; by these three things (which are always found together) he is impelled, and does not know why he is so impelled.
Light on life's Difficulties in 23 sections:



WHEN A MAN enters a dark room he is not sure of his movements, he cannot see objects around him, or properly locate them, and is liable to hurt himself by coming into sudden contact with them. But let a light be introduced, and immediately all confusion disappears. Every object is seen, and there is no danger of being hurt. To the majority, life is such a dark room, and their frequent hurts—their disappointments, perplexities, sorrows and pains—are caused by sudden contact with principles which they do not see, and are therefore not prepared to deal with. But when the light of wisdom is introduced into the darkened understanding, confusion vanishes, difficulties are dissolved, all things are seen in their true place and proportion, and henceforth the man walks open-eyed and unhurt, in the clear light of wise comprehension.
I, Truth, am thy Redeemer, come to Me;
Lay down thy sin and pain and wild unrest;
And I will calm thy spirit’s stormy sea,
Pouring the oil of peace upon thy breast:
Friendless and love—lo, I abide with thee.

Defeated and deserted, cast away,
What refuge hast thou? Whither canst thou fly?
Upon my changeless breast thy burdens lay;
I am thy certain refuge, even I:
All things are passing; I alone can stay.

Lo I, the Great Forsaken, am the Friend
Of the forsaken; I, whom man despise,
The Weak, the helpless, and despised defend;
I gladden aching hearts and weeping eyes;
Rest thou in Me, I am thy sorrow’s end.

Lover, friends and wealth, pleasure and fame—
These fail and change, and pass into decay;
I blame thee not, nor turn my face away:
In My calm bosom hide thy sin and shame.